Prodigal Church, Prodigal Nation

The parable of the prodigal son, found in the Gospel of St. Luke, may provide a blueprint for the church in America to return to its proper moorings and, in so doing, once again steer the ship of state onto a path of correction for this wayward nation. 

The parable told by Jesus is the story of a young son (probably in his late teens) still living at home with his older brother and well-to-do father. The impetuous youth is itching to add some excitement to his life, but he knows that he won’t get his inheritance until his father passes away and, heck, that could be decades down the road. So, the youngster requests his share of his inheritance early. When his father obliges, the son hurries off to some faraway land to begin his life of raucous living. 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for him to spend through daddy’s bankroll—on a lot of licentious living with prostitutes and nefarious company. Once the money is gone, in order to maintain any sort of life, he must get a job feeding pigs. 

That’s when, as Jesus puts it, “he came to his senses.” The son realizes that his father’s provisions for the household servants are better than the surroundings in which the young man now finds himself—and this disastrous situation is totally of his own making! 

But, what to do? He decides he needs to humble himself, work on his mea culpa speech, return to meet his father face to face, and make it known that he’s ready to do a 180 from his riotous living. And if—and he knows it’s a big if—his father will accept him, the young man would like to rejoin the family, even if it means that now he would just be one of the family servants. 

Well, as the story goes, Jesus tells us that while the son “was still a long way off, his father saw him and, filled with compassion for him, ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20) We’re told that the wayward son was welcomed with joy back into the family with love, kisses, a ring on his finger, a new robe—even a feast! Not only was it like he had never left, it was like he didn’t even squander any of his father’s wealth. 

There seems to be an undeniable parallel here between the son and the modern church. When the church went astray from the teaching of the truths found in the Bible, it squandered a most precious treasure. And when the nation lost its anchor—which previously was the church and its teachings—it didn’t take long for another “moral authority” to step into the gap. It began almost as a joke known as “political correctness”—meaning that the politics of the day—and it quickly became our True North. Political correctness pointed the way to social justice and social justice skipped along hand in hand with the woke crowd. 

Today, churches that don’t bow to the woke philosophy are targeted as anti-everything that is good and righteous and true. After all, Adam and Eve are yesterday’s news. A god who’s not imaginative enough to create many dozens of sexes, as can be found on all enlightened social media platforms, is no Supreme Authority on anything. 

The story of the prodigal son provides the church with an obvious instruction on how to get back on track with its true role, not only in this country, but throughout the world. 

Most Christians can recite what they believe is the key verse of the Bible. It’s the one that was popular on placards held up in the stands at football games: “John 3:16” To refresh our memories, that verse reads: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” 

A powerful concept, indeed. But it seems to me that before you can even begin to understand those rather simple, straightforward words, there’s another important verse that can be considered the “key” to unlocking the treasure found in John 3:16. And that is verse 17 in Luke chapter 15, which begins: “When he came to his senses . . . ”

When the wayward son came to his senses, what happened? He saw the obvious. And once he saw the obvious, he was able to formulate a plan to get out of his predicament. And, interestingly enough, that plan (and ultimately a plan for the church) mirrors verses found in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” 

Jesus not long before he was crucified looked out over the city of Jerusalem and wept, saying, “if you had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:41-42

Jerusalem—if you would only come to your senses! 

Saul of Tarsus was rounding up people who believed in Jesus as the Messiah, Savior of the nations, and he was putting them in prison, some were even put to death. On the road to Damascus the spirit of the resurrected Jesus appeared to Saul in a flash of bright light. Saul was thrown off his horse and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me!” (Acts 9:4

From that time on, Saul came to his senses. His name became Paul and he fulfilled his life’s mission: to change the world for the greater good. Myriad individuals, as well as entire nations, were set on the path of freedom because of what Paul wrote. His words would eventually tromp into dust the whims of self-righteous, self-serving people and governments down through the millennia. 

In so many ways, the prodigal Christian church in America “must come to its senses” before we can expect the nation itself to return to be the light of liberty for its own people, and return as a beacon of hope for people across the globe. 

Once the church regains its focus, it will follow the lead of the young prodigal: humble itself, pray, seek God anew, and turn from supporting destructive ideas, and simply stand firm on the Truth found in the Bible. 

And God will do what He promises because, quite frankly, He’s in the promise-keeping business. He will forgive the church for its waywardness, and restore it to its proper place in His plan for the Greater Good—and that long-awaited restoration will be the greatest benefit for America and the world.

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About Albin Sadar

Albin Sadar is the producer of "The Eric Metaxas Show," heard daily coast to coast on over 300 radio stations on the Salem Radio Network.

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